The 4 Branches Of Yoga

The 4 Branches Of Yoga

Yoga is a path; a philosophy to harmonize the interactions and expressions of consciousness and energies in an individual. There are numerous methods and tools employed to reach a state of inner poise, balance and harmony. There are mainly 6 branches of yoga. All of these branches have a common goal – to achieve enlightenment.

1. RAJA YOGA (royal)

This is the scientific approach of yoga, the one of mind control. In the practice of Rāja Yoga, the mind is systematically analyzed and various techniques are applied to bring it under control. This process turns the physical and mental energy into spiritual energy. The practice of Rāja Yoga includes Hatha Yoga (yoga postures, cleansing techniques and breathing exercises) and meditation and other methods which help one to control body, mind and senses.

2. JNANA YOGA (knowledge)

This is the philosophical approach to yoga, the yoga of knowledge. Priests and scholars are most likely to be considered Jnana yogis through their practice of constant inquiry. Study of philosophical and yogic texts, along with discrimination and inquiry are the ways these practitioners understand the depths of the body, mind and spirit.

3. BHAKTI YOGA (devotion)

It is the devotional approach of yoga, the one of pure love. This path involves surrendering oneself to God in order to realize the highest Truth. Aspirants channel their emotions into devotion, developing humility, self-surrender and the feeling of being an instrument in the hands of the Divine. Bhakti Yoga can be practiced in many ways - praying, chanting, japa (repeating a mantra or name of the Divine) and by participating in ceremonies and rituals.

4. KARMA YOGA (action and service)

Karma yoga is based upon selfless service and acting without expectation of benefitting. Karma yoga suggests that we relinquish attachment to the consequences of our actions and instead focus on the moment in action. A Karma yogi sublimates the ego, purifies the heart and realises oneness with all beings by acting selflessly. Karma Yoga can be practiced anywhere, anytime where there is a desire to serve. It depends on the attitude, not the action.

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